The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) “mistakenly” paid in excess as a grant to Nigeria in 2017, and has since been unsuccessful in retrieving it.
In May 2017, instead of paying $15,000 as contribution to the African Championships, the global athletics body paid $150,000 to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and noticed the anomaly two months later.
Since then, the money has not been accounted for and Nigeria has failed to raise the amount after a promise by the minister, who had initiated an investigation into the whereabouts of the $135,000, the IAAF responded in a mail posted online by journalists.
Failure to receive the funds back within that period, we will have no alternative than to apply appropriate sanctions against your Federation,” the IAAF said in a letter sent to AFN President, Ibrahim Gusau. The IAAF threatened to sanction Nigeria by the end of May if the money was not refunded.
Nigeria sports minister, Solomon Dalung, condemned the action in a conversation with journalists on Saturday in Edo State. He distanced Nigeria from any wrongdoing, stating that the country is being unfairly treated.
“I think Nigeria has been unfairly treated because the issue has been painted and promoted as if there was any wrongdoing on the part of Nigeria. Certainly not… Grants were released to Nigeria on the 17th of May 2017. IAAF on the 19th confirmed the transaction; those from IAAF after two months turned around and cried foul that it was a mistake,” said Dalung who was quoted by local media.
“I smell a rat in the whole thing and I believe that the whole thing has been orchestrated in an attempt to blackmail Nigeria… Why did it take IAAF two months to realize a mistake? An international organization that is highly reputable.
“I think it is not about money erroneously credited to Nigeria, but there is a calculated attempt just to diminish and destroy Nigerian athletics. Otherwise, I don’t see why they call it a mistake. We didn’t apply for a grant,” he added.
He called the bluff of the IAAF saying: “Ban us for what? What has Nigeria done? What is the crime? Did we steal money from them? Did we ask them to transfer money to us? They transferred money to us, they confirmed the transaction to us, and then after two months, they woke up from slumber.”
“We are not even convinced that there is any mistake, the money was sent for the golden relays and it was done. Are they saying there were no golden relays? I think those promoting this are trying to cry blue murder. I think they are just enemies of this country and we should ask questions,” he added.
Nigerians have expressed shock at the sports minister’s reaction and condemned his action on social media. The IAAF said they understand the sports minister will be leaving office shortly. Hence, their reminder for the refund before he leaves.